There are bands and then there are bands. There are gigs and then there are gigs. The Quireboys made their long-awaited return to Glasgow’s Garage with their debut album A Bit of What You Fancy in full in an overdue thirtieth anniversary of its release and subsequent re-recorded version. Unsurprisingly, and two years since I last saw them, they delivered one of their best performances.
Spurred by the love of playing many of these tracks on a regular basis, the band have dug out the deep cuts from it, too, to remind you in the live environment just how great an album it is. Unfortunately, the paying job kept me from getting to see Troy Redfern but from the comments in the crowd as I grabbed a decent spot, he seemed to have gone down well.
As six dapper men climb the stage, and “I Love This Dirty Town” kicks in, everything feels right. The Quireboys have played a number of venues across Glasgow in the past decade with an ample share being right here and no matter where they are, they give it their all but there’s an extra level of magic when they perform in Donald MacLeod’s gaff. And following their opening salvo, what follows is The Quireboys battering through eleven of the twelve tracks featured on the album, three decades on, still considered their highest watermark.
Indeed, the band play it in full, but they tinker with the order which is no bad thing because if the second song in their set was “7 O’Clock”, well, it’d be a bit odd. Whilst I’ve seen the band play most of these songs live at some point or another, there’s been a couple that have eluded me which I managed to check off tonight – namely “Man on the Loose” and “Take Me Home”. With the former being one of my favourites from the album, to see the band in full flow as they hammer through it, it makes it all the more bittersweet that I haven’t had the chance up to this point.
Elsewhere, there’s the usual favourites like “Roses and Rings”, “Hey You”, “I Don’t Love You Anymore” and the singalong “Sweet Mary Anne”. As long-standing staples, they go down well as they would any night but in the context, they feel that little bit more special. Of course, for the crowd, one of the highlights comes towards the end with the aforementioned “7 O’clock” and it’s hard to know who is louder – the band or the crowd. With the album portion coming to a close, there’s another couple of standards from later in their career in the shape of “Mona Lisa Smiled” and “This is Rock and Roll”. The latter going hand-in-hand with the band themselves and their ethos – it’s a good time number by a good time rock and roll band. However, the welcome surprise comes in the form of “Original Black Eyed Son” from 2019’s Twisted Love. And who could end a Quireboys gig without a “Sex Party”? Dipping back to the debut one last time, it’s often worked well as a victory lap for them and the tradition works in their favour.
Having attended Quireboys gigs for almost a decade at this point (that just made this millennial feel old), this could well be the best I’ve seen them yet. As Spike’s raspy vocals sound better than they did when these songs were originally recorded over three decades ago (I’m not sure how that works as he insists he’s only twelve!) and Guy Griffin and Paul Guerin take their dual guitar work to the next level, in tow with Keith Weir’s subtle and deft keys, it’s clear they’re only getting better with age. The chemistry between the entire band is palpable and it feels like it was only a week ago since I last saw them.
I’ve long said they put their peers and younger bands to shame, and tonight, they re-affirmed that fact once more. Feelgood performances with great songs backed with stellar musicianship and a dose of humour for good measure may be nothing new at a Quireboys gig, but you’re never left wanting for something different.
Photos by Coops Gig Photography